Chicago flea market vendors meet to discuss next move after fire

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A massive fire ripped through the West Humboldt Park Buyers Flea Market Tuesday, and now vendors want answers.

The building housed several hundred merchants who sold everything from pets and jewelry to food and rosary beads, and Wednesday night they met to discuss their next move including legal action.

These vendors want to know about their merchandise: when can they get inside the building and is the building protected from looters?

The shock is starting to wear off and the reality is settling in. One vendor lost between 15 and 20 thousand dollars when his business went up in flames.

“Yesterday I was still in shock, I couldn't believe what was happening, now I am like settling down and catching it,” said Javier Pantoja, who’s a computer repairman. “I'm just hoping that all my customers can understand what happened.”

The fire started Tuesday morning and a day later crews were still putting out hot spots.

Five-hundred merchants rent spots inside the building, and many of them don't have insurance.

“There's a bunch of innocent victims out there and they just want answers, and as of right now we don’t have any answers,” said attorney Phil Terrassino.

He said the first question that needs to be answered: What’s the cause of the fire?

“If we find out the cause of the fire is the property owner, hopefully he has insurance and we can find some money to help support these people that lost their livelihood,” said Terrassino.

Armando Martinez and his sister sell jewelry at the flea market and probably lost $50,000 and don’t have insurance.

“It’s very hard for everyone to accept and no one wants to take responsibility,” said Martinez.

Authorities are still investigating the fire and it could be several days until a cause is known, and these merchants can't get inside the building to check on their merchandise.